New Delhi: During the 1999 Kargil War, flight lieutenant K Nachiketa was a 26-year-old flying a MiG-27. But the man in charge of targeting Pakistani posts ran out of luck when he had to deal with some technical difficulty with respect to his jet and had to eject. The next thing he knew, he was surrounded by Pakistani soldiers. What followed was a sensational effort by the Indian side to get one of their men back home.
At the helm of the negotiations was then Indian high commissioner in Islamabad, G Parthasarathy. News18 spoke to the former diplomat, who looked back at the time of Nachiketa’s release.
“I got a call from the foreign office asking me to come and get our pilot from there. They said then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif had announced Nachiketa’s release. The foreign office was on Jinnah Road, which is where the Pakistani officials were holding their press conferences. I flatly refused to go there,” he said.
Pakistan, he added, tried to make a hue and cry about it, saying that they were releasing him out of generosity.
“I out rightly refused to go. I told them quite bluntly that I was not going to come to the foreign office for you to make a mockery of an Indian Air Force pilot. That shook them,” Parthasarthy said.
The former diplomat also told them that as per the Geneva Convention, it was the Pakistani side that was supposed to him over to Indian authorities. The Geneva Convention comprises treaties and protocols that establish standards of international law, which outline the humane treatment during wars.
“They finally handed him over to me the same evening. The next morning, we got back home through the Wagah border,” Parthasarthy said, adding that it was all part of Pakistani propaganda when they attempted to ridicule the Indian pilot.
Now, 20 years later, India is faced with a similar situation.
The Ministry of External Affairs, in a press briefing, said that India had lost a fighter jet while engaging with the Pakistani air force earlier on Wednesday. “The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
Pakistani Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor, however, has claimed that two Indian pilots have been captured alive. He added that one pilot was injured and was receiving medical treatment.